Pixelpalooza is the world's biggest icon contest, run by the fine people at Iconfactory (longtime Mac icon makers, and of late, creators of Windows XP's system icons).
I don't remember much about 1998's honorable mention...other than it was encouraging. 2001's 1st place was dizzyingly exhilarating. I wasn't able to complete Volume 5 by the deadline, so I submitted what I had done...apparently it was enough... :)
Gort's Icons Vol. 5 (Almost)
1st Place: Illustrative